Travel to Libreville – The Capital of Gabon
Libreville is the capital and largest city of Gabon. The city is a port on the Komo River, near the Gulf of Guinea, and a trade center for a timber region. It is a particularly beautiful city and its attractions include the stunning seafront, an ideal place to relax and get into African time.
The area was inhabited by the Mpongwé tribe long before the French acquired the land in 1839. In 1846, L’Elizia, a Brazilian ship doing slave trade, was captured by the French navy near Loango. The slaves were freed and founded Libreville (French for “Freetown”) in 1848. It was the chief port of French Equatorial Africa from 1934 to 1946 and was the central focus of the Battle of Gabon in 1940.
Libreville was named in imitation of Freetown and grew only slowly as a trading post and a minor administrative centre to a population of 31,000 on independence in 1960. It only received its first bank branch when Bank of West Africa (BAO) opened a branch in 1930. Since independence, the city has grown rapidly and now houses nearly half the national population.
Sights in Libreville include the National Museum of Arts and Traditions, the French cultural centre, St Marie’s Cathedral, the carved wood church of St Michael, Nkembo, the Arboretum de Sibang and two cultural villages. Libreville’s main market lies in Mont-Bouët.
Alongside the Komo estuary is the Pongara National Park of 929 square km and also behind Cap Esterias is Akanda National Park which is famed for its large congregations of migrating waterbirds.
However, perhaps the city’s greatest asset is the seafront (bord de mer) where people gather daily to relax by the Atlantic Ocean. All along the seafront you will find some Gabonese sculptures (some are 20 feet tall!) looking over the beach. You could also go in Nzeng-ayong to see the Arboretum de Sybang which is a huge tree sanctuary inside Libreville which groups thousands of local species.
Simply relax at the beach and waterfront or spend some time exploring the city and its sights or meeting the friendly local people. Or why not shop at the local market to pick up some traditional African souvenirs?
- Relax along the beautiful waterfront.
- Tour museums and cultural centres.
- Explore nearby national parks.